“I felt I was damned if I did, damned if I didn’t,” wrote Piroska Nagy, an IMF employee, in a letter to investigators about her 2008 affair with the institution’s managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn. She called him “A man with a problem that may make him ill-equipped to lead an institution where women work under his command.” (Strauss-Kahn admitted the affair was an “error of judgement” but denied he had abused his position.)
Three years later, Nafissatou Diallo, a maid at New York City’s Sofitel hotel, accused Strauss-Kahn, a hotel guest, of raping her. Never mind that the story of Tristane Banon, who accused Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape years earlier, closely echoed Diallo’s. Never mind that the politician was known for his “taste for women” and “a somewhat unbridled sex life,” according to a French journalist who followed him to stripper clubs and a prostitute hangout at the Bois de Boulogne. Strauss-Kahn claimed the incident was consensual, and was cleared of all charges.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn was known for his “taste for women” and “a somewhat unbridled sex life.”
Directed by the French filmmaker and actor Jalil Lespert (director of the 2014 Yves Saint Laurent), the four-episode documentary Room 2806: The Accusation recounts the Diallo incident with interviews in both French and English. Absent is the star of the series himself, whose fall from grace is nonetheless spectacularly emphasized. At the time of the affair that would end his career, Strauss-Kahn was favored to be the next president of France. He is referred to in Room 2806 as “the financial czar of the world.”
The details of the Diallo incident were covered amply in 2011, but here Lespert has gathered astounding reactions—“This isn’t like him,” “He’s just French …”—from those who stood by the alleged rapist, a coterie that includes former French presidents, friends, and, since 2017, a fourth wife. (His third, the television presenter Anne Sinclair, paid out of pocket for the P.R. team covering the scandal; the couple divorced in its aftermath.) Today, Strauss-Kahn has found work in Eastern Europe, while his would-have-been presidential opponent, Nicolas Sarkozy, faces four years’ jail time for bribing a judge. Strauss-Kahn claims to be at work on a documentary telling his version of events, premiering next year. —Julia Vitale
Room 2806: The Accusation is available to watch on Netflix